This article is part of a series on progressive surveying firms that was launched in POB's October 2011 issue. The series is now called Points of Progress. To inquire about having your firm profiled in an upcoming article, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Company Name: Surveying And Mapping Inc. (SAM Inc.)
Headquarters: Austin, Texas
Year Established: 1994
Number of Employees: 375
Primary Services: Land surveying, mobile LiDAR, airborne LiDAR, terrestrial laser scanning, GIS, photogrammetry, construction phase services, subsurface utility engineering and utility coordination services
Against the backdrop of a very difficult economy, SAM Inc. saw its revenues jump 80 percent in 2010 and an additional 70 percent in 2011. “Our sustained efforts to diversify our markets and geographic reach while staying at the leading edge of technological advancements are the primary elements of this success,” says founder and president Samir “Sam” G. Hanna, RPLS, adding that gaining new business in the energy markets was a major game changer for the firm.
Market diversification is not a new strategy for SAM Inc. Over the last decade, the firm has strategically expanded to offer digital aerial mapping, GIS, terrestrial laser scanning, subsurface utility engineering and utility coordination. In 2009, SAM Inc. became one of the first firms to invest in mobile LiDAR technology. And in August 2011, the company added a state-of-the-art Trimble Harrier 68i airborne LiDAR scanner that can be deployed from either a helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft. “Bringing our multidisciplinary expertise to bear across a range of geospatial solutions is one of our greatest strengths,” Hanna says. “Not only do we maximize our value to clients with diverse capabilities, but our cross-disciplinary integration allows us to provide more knowledgeable solutions.”
While technology investments give the firm a competitive edge, the company’s corporate culture fosters a spirit of innovation that goes beyond hardware and software. “With a strong focus on teamwork and collaboration, a robust entrepreneurial spirit, family atmosphere and positive recognition of accomplishments, our people take pride in their professional advancement,” Hanna says. The firm experienced a 185 percent employee growth rate in the past year alone. The expansion of staff resources has allowed the company to pursue multiple large-scale (100+ mile) projects. Success on these projects enables the firm to invest in future services and markets and continue its cycle of growth.
Client satisfaction is paramount. “We only consider a job complete when our client is successfully using the product,” Hanna says. “What turns a new client into a long-term client is the hard work and dedication of all of our employees working together to deliver a top-quality product, on time and within budget. Our continued achievement rests on our ability to deliver the best work, even under the toughest conditions.”
Looking toward the future, Hanna believes it’s imperative for the surveying profession to continue to integrate new geospatial tools that increase productivity and accuracy and deliver value to clients. “The surveying profession has gone through several significant sea change moments,” he says. “3D laser scanning and the more recent advances with mobile mapping and airborne LiDAR technology are the next stage in a continuous cycle of advancements. For design applications, LiDAR technology (terrestrial, mobile and airborne) offers a tremendous advantage to our profession with the ability to collect a large amount of information very quickly, and at a higher level of accuracy than ever before.”
Such innovations are blurring the boundaries separating traditional land surveying from other geospatial services, Hanna says. “While boundary surveying will remain an important component, geospatial disciplines are converging. Like a GIS mashup, we are being tasked to bring together datasets from multiple sources to produce a new product. Our clients expect value. Our future rests on our ability not just to adapt, but to drive innovation in surveying technology, and to critically evaluate and apply these new technologies to support our clients’ projects.”